Tongkat ali is a plant root that has been used in folk medicine for centuries. This plant is native to Southeast Asia and is used to treat many ailments. The benefits of tongkat ali are numerous and can be attributed to its active components. Fresh and dried extracts of this plant root are used to treat erectile dysfunction, control blood glucose levels, and help treat age-related physical and mental disorders.
Here, we explore the potential health benefits of tongkat ali, a list of its active compounds, and how you can use it in your diet. Keep reading.
In This Article
What Is Tongkat Ali?
Eurycoma longifolia a.k.a Tongkat ali, Pasak Bumi, Malaysian Ginseng, or Longjack is a medicinal herb that grows in parts of Vietnam, Java, Malaysia, Sumatra, and Thailand.
For many years, the plant parts of this herb have been lauded for their aphrodisiac, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antimalarial, and revitalizing properties (1).
These properties are due to Tongkat ali’s rich biochemical composition. These active components primarily boost testosterone levels. Drinking tongkat root tea regularly might help men and women improve their libido (2).
With age, testosterone levels drop. This causes several bone, brain, and metabolic disorders. Tongkat ali, according to scientific evidence, can be of great help in such cases.
Go to the next section to see how and why tongkat ali is also called the Malaysian Viagra.
What Are The Benefits Of Tongkat Ali?
1. Improves Performance In Athletes And Bodybuilders
Tongkat ali is a part of several sports and bodybuilding supplements. This herbal extract can increase energy levels, decrease cortisol, and enhance exercise performance. These effects could be because of the probable increase in serum testosterone levels in athletes.
Studies on male and female athletes showed a spike in the bioavailability of free testosterone upon tongkat ali supplementation. A daily dose of 400 mg tongkat ali for 5 weeks improved muscle force in older men and women (3).
Another study showed that consuming a herbal drink with 0.1 mg/100 ml Tongkat Ali enhanced running performance in cyclists (4).
2. Can Boost Testosterone And Libido In Men
Using tongkat ali extract (200 mg/day) can increase the levels of free and total serum testosterone in men.
Traditionally, this herb was used to improve sex drive and libido. Though the mechanism remains unclear, it is speculated that the ‘eurypeptides’ in tongkat ali could be involved (2).
Eurypeptides are a group of small peptides in this herb. They are thought to influence the rate of release of bound testosterone from sex-hormone-binding-hormone (SHBG).
The Malaysians used tongkat ali as an aphrodisiac for impotence and erectile dysfunction as well as to treat fatigue (2).
A rat study performed in 2017 demonstrated how tongkat ali extracts could counter penile contraction. Its semi-purified root extract can treat erectile dysfunction by working on the angiotensin system (5).
3. Helps Maintain Bone Health In Aging Men And Women
As you age, your skeletal system gets affected the most. This might be because of the depleting levels of the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone.
Particularly in men, testosterone deficiency leads to reduced bone strength, lean body mass, and calcium absorption. Some studies also suggest such hypogonadism impairs the activity of estrogen too. All these might cumulatively give rise to osteoporosis and frequent fractures or dislocations (6).
As an alternative to testosterone replacement therapy, supplements containing herbs like tongkat ali can improve the condition in these older individuals.
4. Might Help Regulate Diabetes
It was observed across several rat studies that tongkat ali extracts could also regulate blood glucose levels.
This effect is attributed to increased insulin sensitivity brought about by tongkat ali components. A small dose (50 μg/mL) of the herbal extract enhanced glucose uptake by 200%!
Tongkat ali root extracts showed the ability to reduce lipid accumulation and increase insulin sensitivity in a dose-dependent manner. Hence, this herb can be a comprehensive treatment option for diabetes (7).
Are you wondering what compounds in tongkat ali are responsible for all these benefits? Check out the next section for the answer.
What Are The Active Components Of Tongkat Ali?
Eurycoma longifolia has various active biochemicals that are responsible for the benefits you just read about. The most extensively characterized compounds include β-carboline alkaloids, quassinoids, canthin-6-one alkaloids, and squalene derivatives (7).
Steroids like eurycolactone, eurycomalactone, laurycolactone, and biphenyl neolignan are reported. Triterpenes, including tirucallane and eurylene, along with propanoids like scopolin and propan are also present in the extracts (7), (8).
Quassinoids are the major constituents and impart the characteristic bitter taste to this Malaysian ginseng root. The β-Carboline and Canthin-6-one alkaloids are nitrogen-containing components that give tongkat ali its insect-repellent properties (7).
What a unique phytochemical profile for a simple shrub! Aren’t we envious of those who’ve been using this holistic herb traditionally?
You don’t have to envy them anymore! This is because tongkat ali is available for the world to use. You can find various forms of this potent herb in the marketplace.
Eager to know what they are? Jump to the next section!
How Do You Take Tongkat Ali?
Tongkat Ali is currently available in various forms on the markets. You can find them as vegetarian capsules, liquid extract, root extract powder, and alcohol-free tincture.
It is recommended to use them only under medical guidance since certain formulations might be very potent. Your body might not need or not be able to handle certain doses mentioned by the manufacturer. Therefore, consult your doctor for the right dosage and directions to use.
Animal studies showed that administration of tongkat ali alcohol extract up to 200-350 mg/kg/day was not toxic. Some mice and rat studies quote a daily dose below 1000-1200 mg/kg body weight to be safe and non-toxic (9).
According to these studies, oral administration of tongkat ali is about 100 times less toxic than intraperitoneal injections (9).
Tongkat ali is an herbal remedy with a long history in folk medicine. The numerous benefits of Tongkat ali can be attributed to its several active components. It improves performance in athletes and bodybuilders, boosts testosterone and libido in men, maintains bone health in aging men and women, and regulates diabetes. It is available as capsules, liquid extracts, powder, and alcohol-free tinctures. Also, there are no documented side effects of Tongkat ali. Hence, consume it in the recommended dosage to reap its maximum benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best time to take Tongkat Ali?
Anecdotal evidence suggests that you should take Tongkat Ali in the morning.
Is Tongkat Ali good for the prostate?
Yes. Tongkat Ali may even help reduce prostate cancer risk (10).
Is Tongkat Ali good for blood pressure?
Yes. Tongkat Ali is a good source of alkaloids, terpenes, and polyphenols that may help maintain blood pressure (11).
Is Tongkat Ali the same as Maca root?
No. However, both Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) and maca (Lepidium meyenii) are good for boosting male fertility.
- Tongkat ali is a medicinal herb found in Vietnam, Java, Malaysia, Sumatra, and Thailand.
- It is known for its aphrodisiac, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antimalarial, and rejuvenating effects.
- Tongkat ali help improve performance in athletes and bodybuilders, increases testosterone and libido in men, maintains bone health in aged men and women, and possibly regulates diabetes.
- You can find them as vegetarian capsules, liquid extract, root extract powder, and alcohol-free tincture.
- “Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia Jack): a review on its…” Fitoterapia, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Effect of Tongkat Ali on stress hormones and psychological…” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Heavy Resistance Training and Supplementation With the Alleged…” Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Herbal medicine for sports: a review” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Effects of Root Extracts of Eurycoma longifolia Jack on…” Medical Principles and Practice, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Eurycoma longifolia: Medicinal Plant in the Prevention and…” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Review on a Traditional Herbal Medicine, Eurycoma longifolia…” Molecules, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Review Ergogenic Effect of Long Jack, Eurycoma longifolia” Pharmacognosy Review, US National Library Of Medicine.
- “In vivo effects of Eurycoma longifolia Jack (Tongkat Ali)…” Andrologia 2014, Academia.
- “The In Vitro and In Vivo Anti-Cancer Activities of a Standardized Quassinoids Composition from Eurycoma longifolia on LNCaP Human Prostate Cancer Cells.” Plos One.
- “The Powdered Root of Eurycoma longifolia Jack Improves Beta-Cell Number and Pancreatic Islet Performance through PDX1 Induction and Shows Antihyperglycemic Activity in db/db Mice” Nutrients.